Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Applying Stage-Based Theory to engage female students in university sport

Julie A. Brunton, Tom St Quinton



Purpose: University sport is recognized by many as a key area of university strategy and one of increasing importance, as seen by universities prioritizing sport within their university strategic plans as well as national funding bodies investing in university sport. Whilst sport is rising on the agenda, engaging all students in sport is a key challenge for universities. This paper examines the factors that enable and inhibit female students’ participation in university sport and active recreation using an interpretivist qualitative design. The paper also identified specific behaviour change techniques that could be used within interventions to increase participation rates. Method: Six focus groups were carried out. Data were analysed verbatim using a constant comparative process of analysis. Results: Findings revealed several emergent themes to help inform theory-based interventions to engage more female students in sport. Conclusion: University sport is an important behaviour for students to undertake. The paper identified a number of avenues for universities to pursue in order to achieve this aim.


Sports-based interventions; University sport; Behaviour change techniques; Motivation


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